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Judge refuses Pratt’s request for TRO against phone system

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake can continue with her plans for an Internet-based phone system for city employees while fighting a lawsuit by Comptroller Joan Pratt, a judge has ruled.

joan pratt

City Comptroller Joan Pratt took questions outside the courthouse after Thursday’s ruling.

Judge Jeffrey M. Geller denied Pratt’s request for a temporary restraining order Thursday in Baltimore City Circuit Court. The judge ruled that Pratt failed to show that her lawsuit was likely to succeed at trial, a requirement for obtaining a TRO. The court also found that Pratt failed to show that irreparable harm would occur if the administration is allowed to proceed with the contract.

City Solicitor George Nilson said he expected Thursday’s ruling.

“I was confident that we would prevail,” Nilson said. “I wasn’t surprised at the reasons cited by the judge.”

Pratt, who is being represented pro bono by the Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos, claims the administration circumvented the city’s competitive bidding process in contracting with Rockville-based Digicon Corp. to install a Voice Over Internet Protocol phone system.

She is suing to prevent the city from moving forward with the contract.

Angelos attorney Charles G. Bernstein said Thursday he was still confident about Pratt’s position.

“We didn’t meet the standard of irreparable injury now but we’re confident that we will be able to prove our case down the road,” he said. “While this is going on the city is wasting $400,000 of the taxpayer’s money every month. We will continue on to try to protect the taxpayers.”

Pratt’s lawsuit is the most recent development in a long-standing disagreement between the mayor and comptroller over the phone system.

Pratt sought to bid out the contract for a new phone system, but the mayor’s office of technology is proceeding under an existing contract with Digicon.

According to a report last month by Baltimore’s inspector general, the city has already spent $1 million on the new phone system.


2 comments

  1. Patrick Henderson

    This is an unbelievable ruling. The judge wants to see irreparable harm; this city has not been audited for 60 years, the school board is wasting millions, no new school has been built in the city in the past 30 years, people are losing their homes for $300.00, while major corporations owe in the millions in past due water bills, some dating back 5 years.
    If these are not reaping irreparable harm on the people of Baltimore City, then maybe we should compose a better definition for the term?
    I’m not a lawyer, but the Baltimore City Charter clearly prevents purchases by the Mayor without them being bid out for the best bid. Our mayor did not do that. We the people are harmed because our trust, in our elected officials is at an all time low, as their judgements don’t make sense to the uneducated nor the educated.
    I have been to Jamaica and read horror stories about Africa and other 3rd world countries, and the way Baltimore City is being managed, I cannot help but make the comparison, as Baltimore now fosters the slight stench of a 3rd world city, just waiting to happen.

  2. You got it right! You do not have to be a lawyer to see that it is wrong for the Mayor to ignore the Procurement provisions of the City Charter which dictate that IBM get the contract because their Proposal was judged best by the Mayor’s Agencies and their price acceptable after 5 months of hard bargaining with the Mayor’s agencies under the BOFA process……..

    Instead this Mayor wants to ignore the City Charter and award the $7.4M contract to Digicom which never submitted a Proposal in response to the RFP….Nice to be wired…….but this Mayor has cost us $400,00 per month of dealy i.e. $1.6M since June when she should have voted for the contract and counting at $400,000 for every month she delays.

    Under the law the Board of Estimates (i.e. the Mayor) has 2 choices and 2 choices only. She can award the contract to IBM or do nothing. Doing the latter, which has been her choice thus far, costs us $400,00 monthly with no end in sight